From an old article by Brian Doyle, republished this week in The American Scholar:
Can I ask you a strange favor? On Monday night, December 22, go outside with your kids, or your friends, or your neighbors, and start a bonfire… And when it is going well, when it’s leaping and steady and warmer than you remember bonfires being, stand around it with your friends or your loved ones, and tell stories, and laugh, maybe have a beer, maybe even sing a little.
Mr. Doyle asked us for that favor because Joe Strummer (musician, singer, songwriter, co-founder of The Clash) died on December 22, 2002.
his favorite thing to do was gather friends and family and make bonfires and stand around the fire telling stories and laughing and singing.Brian Doyle, in the article linked above.
My friend Kevin read the article recently, and was happy to oblige the request. He organized a firepit gathering at my neighbor Mark’s house on Tuesday night. We were a day late for Joe Strummer Day, but better late than never. It was a wonderful way to celebrate the spirit of a man who touched a lot of lives with his music and his stories.
I’ve read a lot of autobiographies from rock and rollers. Many of them include “the first time I met Joe Strummer” tales. And I’ve yet to read an unkind word about him. From all accounts, he was generous with his time, and liberal with his praise and encouragement.
Joe was only 50 when he passed away. The folks gathered around the fire on Tuesday have passed that milestone. I hope we’re able to keep Joe’s spirit burning brightly.
Think of it as a way to say hey to Joe Strummer, who was a good man, much missed; but think of it too as a way to honor what he cherished and savored in his own life: the way standing or sitting together matters, and telling stories matters, and laughing matters, and singing matters. That’s Joe Strummer’s true legacy, I think, more than the records he sold
Brian Doyle’s piece is quite short, and well worth the read. Mr. Doyle passed away in 2017. Like Joe, he left us with food for thought, with something to savor, with fond memories.
See you next December 22nd. Until then, keep the fire burning.
Raise a toast to Saint Joe StrummerLyrics from “Constructive Summer” by The Hold Steady
I think he might have been our only decent teacher